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Clara men at the Front World War I
Archives for Offaly History
The Society has engaged a professional
archivist, Lisa Shortall, to assist in cataloguing
our archive, and this is turning up finds and
items that had been forgotten about.
Papers include the following: Williams
Group, Letter books and accounts of James
Rogers, solicitor c 1910 to 1924, Digby
Papers, sundry legal documents re proper-
ties and families in County Offaly.
Forthcoming events at Offaly History can be
found at
Offaly Heritage No. 8, the Society's journal, is
planned for a May Launch.
Tullamore's Roll of Honour
a photograph of November 1915
By Michael Byrne, Offaly History
Most of the midland papers carried photo-
graphs of soldiers at the Front from late 1915
up to the end of 1916. It was a way of support-
ing the recruitment effort and providing local
news. The year 1915 was difficult with mount-
ing casualties especially arising from the disas-
trous landing at Gallipoli. This Roll of Honour
contains 62 photographs; by the end of the
war in 1918 about 15 of the men shown here
were dead. Those who died are shown in bold.
Information on these deaths is derived from
Tom Burnell's The Offaly War Dead (Dublin,
2010). The Roll of Honour was published in
November 1915. Another roll or gallery was
published with 16 photographs of Tullamore,
one of Clara with six men and numerous indi
vidual shots in the King's County Chronicle,
mainly of men from the Birr area. Burnell has
Independent provided excellent coverage of
the war. The Midland Tribune less so as it was
out of sympathy with Irishmen fighting for the
British Empire when Home Rule was still not in
force at home.
According to one estimate up to ten per cent
of the people of the urban area, or 452 out of
5,000, joined the war effort. When one takes
the relevant population group of males in the
15 to 50 age group it works out at a lot more.
Over 400 of that figure of 452 represented the
Catholic and Nationalist element; 45 are given
as killed; 83 as wounded; 6 as missing; 9 as pris-
oners of war, of which 3 have been since
released; 21 as invalided; 10 as wounded and
invalided; 1 as wounded and missing; 2
wounded and discharged; 1 as having died
while a prisoner of war in Germany and 1 as
having died from wounds. If 45 were killed up
to February 1917 when this estimate was pro-
vided, then the overall number from the urban
district must have been perhaps 70. More work
is needed here, but certainly it is a forgotten
tragedy notwithstanding the memorial
erected in the town square in 1926.
Participation ran in families with a military tradi-
tion as with Flanagans, Walsh, Hensey and
others from the better-off families in the town
such as Egan, Lumley, Goodbody and Williams
who went out to fight for the Empire and the
small nations. Some families such as Egan and
Lumley were lucky to survive, while others such
as the Henseys of Davitt Street, Tullamore, and
the Walsh family lost several family members to
the war.
The 1915 photograph has been reprinted by
Offaly History and is available from the Society
age is extra. Email us at